Category Archives: Art instruction

Canva Review

Announcement produced with Canva template

Last year I started following an instagram guru Kat Coroy (@katcoroy) and almost signed up for her Instagram Makeover course.  As I waited to have at least a month to dedicate to that online marketing exercise, I continued to receive many interesting tips.  One of her suggestions was Canva. 

Now, I get all kinds of solicitations for marketing tools, so I didn’t pay that much attention.  I finally downloaded the smartphone app and I have to say I’m impressed.  This app has a LOT of useful features.

Canva is hard to describe; their own page doesn’t even try.  I would say it’s primarily a marketing tool.  When you open the app,  you see a prompt to Create a Design and you can scroll through hundreds of beautiful templates to truly Design Anything as the lead in proclaims.

This tool is chock full of templates to match anything you might possibly want to create- Instagram posts, stories, facebook posts, headers, logos, business cards, newsletters, posters, you name it, it’s there.  When you choose one of the categories, you are offered a blank as well as pages of beautiful pre-designed templates that you can modify for your own use.  I used a Canva template for this blogs image, and you can see the AANV Give Art ad that I enhanced with Canva in my instagram feed here

Canva runs on all devices.  You can work through your desktop browser or smartphone app.  You can try Canva for free and unlike some “free apps”, there is a very useful subset of the full version.  I signed up for the free 30-day trial of the pro version.  If you do so, beware!  You may find you can’t live without it.  

Disclaimer:  If you use the link below to sign up for Canva, we will both get rewards.

If you ever need to create a graphic, poster, invitation, logo, presentation or anything that looks good – give Canva a go.

    •    It’s free!

    •    Easy to use – simply drag and drop

    •    60,000+ templates

Join Now


Photoshop Tip: Magnetic Lasso

If you enjoy this article, please consider supporting my art at FlyingPig Farm.  I am currently running a promotion where I select a piece to be 30% off each week.  Currently, it’s the White-crowned Sparrow.

Magnetic Lasso

I am currently studying Background and Shadows in an online course with Birgit O’Connor. While reading the section on preparing reference photos, I discovered I have a tool I didn’t know about.

Occasionally you might want to extract a subject from one of your photos to use it in a new composition.  It can be difficult to select only that object, especially if the edges are complex.  You’d like to separate a subject from its background, but you don’t want anything else in the image. This is often referred to in Photoshop as Making a Selection. 

I didn’t realize I had a Magnetic Lasso tool because it sits below the Lasso Tool by default.  The Lasso Tool allows you to draw a freehand selection around an object which can be difficult. 

The Magnetic Lasso Tool helps you detect the edges of an object by automatically clinging to them.  It works especially well where there is a lot of contrast between your subject and the background.  You can adjust the Edge Contrast and Frequency of anchor points to improve the selection.

My image shows a rose from my garden and a selection I did in less than a minute with the Magnetic Lasso.  It’s not perfect, but it’s a great starting point.  This was much easier to do than trying to drag the regular Lasso around all the edges myself.

This tool is also available in Photoshop Elements.  If you’d like to try it, I recommend searching for Magnetic Lasso online and following one of the many tutorials available.  You can also access the relevant Photoshop help files by clicking on the question mark in the tool bin. 




Atmospheric Landscapes- Commonweal Lesson


I hadn’t managed to complete this exercise from Atmospheric Landscapes the first time around.  It looked intimidating and I procrastinated a long time.

It was actually the only painting I hadn’t attempted, but since that first course. But Birgit O’Connor continuesto add content to existing courses(which is another good reason to sign up . I knew I had to get started if I really wanted to complete the course this time around.

It isn’t so much the subject- the reference image is actually not that detailed.  It’s Birgit’s interpretation and final painting that looked unobtainable. But I should have known by now that Birgit has a gift for guiding students step by step towards successful paintings.  If you look at a picture of any of her painting classes, they are ALL holding up beautiful paintings.

I followed the video lessons, and bit by bit, the painting emerged.  It’s amazing how certain strokes here and there can really “make” a painting.  I’m pleased with my result, and can only hope that I learn to incorporate this approach into my own inventions.